New HP chief faces variety of challenges

Newly appointed Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd is going to have to jump through a few hoops to meet the new challenges of running a company that is very different to his previous base, NCR, a local analyst claims.

Hurd may have achieved great success at NCR but Gartner research vice president Andrew Butler said Hurd will have to magnify his strengths to tackle a more expansive set of problems at HP.

"Mark Hurd has established impressive credentials at NCR, both as an aggressive cost cutter and as a very good administrator... but he was able to achieve this track record in a that's different to HP," Butler said.

"He has to walk a very delicate tightrope of inspiring both Wall Street and a highly disillusioned workforce; getting just one of those right might not be so hard, but to do both will be a challenge as they are almost contradictory."

At his most recent press conference, Hurd said one of his first priorities will be meeting HP's employees, customers and partners over the coming weeks and months.

"Don't expect to see a lot of me now," Hurd said to journalists at the event.

The comments fits with Butler's assessment that Hurd will take a few months to evaluate the health and shape of the company.

It will not happen overnight, he said, but may be so gradual that the degree of change is hard to quantify.

"Hurd is a good choice. HP needs a solid and competent administrator rather than a highly visionary leader; the HP of two years time will be a very different company," Butler said.

HP spokesperson and corporate communications manager in Australia, Stephen Ries said there are no immediate plans to visit local customers. However, once Hurd is settled into his role steps will be taken to increase interaction with key local customers, Ries said.

Gartner's Andrew Butler's predictions for the "new" HP under Hurd:

* Introduction of better levels of accountability throughout the organization.

* A more decentralized structure, that will not burden the company with added bureaucracy.

* Lines-of-business will get better autonomy and decision-making responsibility, but more stringent and ongoing examination of both their profitability and contribution to HP's business strategy.

* Shaving of operating costs, and introduction of better levels of communication, both up and down the infrastructure.

* Hard policy decisions including possible job cuts.

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